The Next Generation of Generosity

They are young, proactive, and socially engaged. Some come from families with long legacies of charitable giving, while others are tirelessly advancing the names of their causes alone. From poverty to hunger, education to the arts, human rights to animal rights, these young faces of philanthropy are helping to create a better tomorrow for all of us, both at home and around the world.

Friends of Finn

After participating in a Mississippi puppy mill rescue effort in 2010, Amanda Hearst discovered that her very own puppy, Finnegan, had also been a victim of one of these disgraceful mills—a discovery that inspired her to form Friends of Finn.

Friends of Finn, an organization comprised of young leaders dedicated to stopping the cruel treatment of dogs in puppy mills, raises money on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States’ Stop Puppy Mills movement and uses the funds for rescue efforts, educational purposes, and general public awareness.
In 2012, Hearst enrolled in her second puppy mill rescue in North Carolina with Georgina Bloomberg, another dedicated member of FOF, ultimately resulting in the liberation of 88 puppies and one pregnant cat. In 2015, Hearst and Bloomberg, alongside fellow FOF members Steve Read and Courtney Stroum Meagher, participated in the Humane Puerto Rico program, which provided triage and neuter/spay services for hundreds of animals, resulting in the rescue of over 160 dogs. Hearst prides herself on her involvement in this exciting movement—the campaign against puppy mills.

Q: How do you approach the world of philanthropy?
A: I think it’s important to pick one cause that really speaks to you and focus your energy on that organization—there are so many issues out there, so it can be easy to spread yourself too thin or get overwhelmed.

Q: What are your specific causes and concerns?
A: I’ve always been drawn to animals and the natural world. Maybe because I grew up in New York City, that made me more drawn to the environment and in awe of it.

Q: Do you have any anecdotes to share about how best to raise money (for causes) and spend money (within organizations)?
A: I’ve found that the best way to raise money is to get people intimately involved with the cause. So with Friends of Finn, members go on puppy mill raids, they volunteer at shelters, and we have group retreats at animal sanctuaries. If people see where their money is going, they are more likely to give more.


Supplies for Success

During her days as a fashion-photography producer, Lisa Eryn Silverman was often exposed to beautiful photographs taken by renowned photographers that ultimately went unused. With so few photographs chosen to be featured in magazines, many were and are simply forgotten. Through her founding of These Fine Walls, an online marketplace for interior designers and art collectors to purchase unused photographs, Silverman has furthered her long-held passion for philanthropy by creating a special code for shoppers whereby a portion of sales benefits Supplies for Success.

Q: How do you look at the world of philanthropy and how do you see yourself in that world?
A: Philanthropy was woven into my life since childhood. I was taught by my mother, who had me volunteering to help people living in poverty since elementary school, that there are people less fortunate and it’s my responsibility to help them. I currently serve as Vice Chairwoman of Supplies for Success and have been an integral part of the program by using my artistic bent to create invitations and social media content, curate pop-up boutique fundraisers and, of course, volunteer at our giant annual backpack assembly events where hundreds of volunteers pack backpacks with school supplies.

Q: What are your specific causes and concerns?
A: Children living in poverty is such an injustice. Education is the pathway to a better life and although our country offers free education, when kids don’t have the necessary school supplies, they start behind, and are anxious and ashamed. Providing supplies for learning is so simple, yet has such impact on their success. Annually, we distribute more than 11,000 backpacks to organizations across New York.

Q: Do you have any anecdotes to share about how best to raise money or give money (to causes) and spend money (within organizations)?
A: Business owners have a unique opportunity to integrate charity into their culture—people like to shop knowing that their purchase will make a difference. TFW has offered shoppers a discount code to donate a portion of their purchase to provide backpacks to local children. When donating, I think it’s best to put money into causes you are passionate about.


Harlem Academy

Vincent Dotoli, founder of Harlem Academy, was teaching at one of the most exclusive private schools in the country when he came to the realization that his students would be successful whether he taught them or not—an epiphany that left him dissatisfied and yearning for a means to have a larger impact. After earning his master’s in education from Columbia University, Dotoli shifted his focus to gifted children in underserved communities who are disadvantaged by the quality of their local education. In 2004, Dotoli founded Harlem Academy, giving him the influence as an educator that he long desired.

Q: How do you look at the world of philanthropy and how you fit in?
A: I actually like to go by Harlem Academy’s school pillars—they are a great lens for reflection and growth. Compassion: Trying to listen carefully to understand the needs of the local and global community. Initiative: Seeking solutions and roles that can make a difference. Integrity: Making choices that align with personal values. Determination: Stretching to do as much as possible and maintaining focus for as long as needed. I try my best to follow these four pillars in my role at Harlem Academy and throughout life.

Q: What are your specific causes and concerns?
A: My focus is on education, and most of my energy goes to Harlem Academy. At its best, education can be transformational – the American Dream literally hangs on its promise. Yet, in too many communities, zip code and wealth define opportunity, and children fall through the cracks. Harlem Academy is a direct response to this squandered potential, providing a space where success is determined by ability and drive.

Q: Do you have any anecdotes to share about how best to raise money (for causes) and spend money (within organizations)?
A: One of the things we’ve learned at Harlem Academy is that you need to make space for donors to connect to the mission at a personal level. For us, this means encouraging school visits so donors can speak with students and see the impact they’re having firsthand.
When it comes to giving money, donors often look for a small, exciting project within an organization. Instead, my advice would be to find the issue and solution you want to impact, and then fund the general operating budget as generously as you’re able. It might be less exciting, but well-run organizations fund what’s mission-critical first, and that’s where you want your money to go. We use that same analysis for deciding not just whether an opportunity will add value, but how much value it adds relative to other options we can pursue with the same resources.